Church History Tuesday: Kirk O’Shotts
If you drive between Glasgow and Edinburgh on the M8, roughly halfway between the two cities you will see on your right a 600 foot high mast which transmits BBC Radio to grateful Scots. Just to the west of the mast you can see the Kirk O'Shotts, the parish church sitting on top of the ridge as the traffic trundles along below.
Back in 1630, on the 21st June, it was communion season at Kirk O’Shotts, a twice-a-year event which began on a Thursday and carried on to the following Monday. There would have been a sense of anticipation as communion was only a six-monthly affair, and there were a series of meetings for those who had come from the following area.
That morning, John Livingstone had been asked preach. It was his twenty-seventh birthday, and he had from eight or nine-o-clock been wrestling in prayer in the fields. Doubts came flooding in - who are you to preach? So many people? But he stuck to his task, and came to preach on Ezekiel 36:25 - 26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you”.
He had been preaching for one and a half hours (those were the days!) when it came to the time for application. He’d explained it all, now it was time to bring it home. He had prepared a few short thoughts, nothing much. And then it happened.
Livingstone carried on for another hour - the words were just coming, and the Holy Spirit was clearly acting in the congregation. Some fell to their knees, others wept. Some decades later it was estimated that five hundred people were converted at that service. Five hundred people who were still in their churches all those years on.
John Livingstone went on to minister for decades after that event, but experienced nothing like that again. But he always remembered the day when the Spirit moved amongst the people of Kirk O’Shotts.